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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale - Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

Not Rated.
Monk's Café Flemish Sour AleMonk's Café Flemish Sour Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,098 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,098
Hads: 2,762
Avg: 3.84
pDev: 21.61%
Wants: 82
Gots: 374 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. visit their website

Style | ABV
Flanders Oud Bruin |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: nomad on 06-19-2003

Brewed for Monk's Café in Philadelphia, but also available for retail purchase elsewhere. Oud Bruin in style; a traditional blend of young and old beers.
View: Beers (92) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,098 | Hads: 2,762
Photo of ROBORB
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a ruby, hazy red color with a very thin head. The aroma was teh best part of this beer. It smelled of candy, sugar, and cherries. I found the beer to be overly sweet at first sip but as the beer warmed it started getting more sour. This would be a great transitional beer for someone getting into sours.

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Photo of Sumdeus
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: poured deep ruby in color into a mini snifter. Very little head. Last pour from the bottle is sediment heavy.

S: rich dark fruits with a nice moderate tartness to it.

T: the fruit characteristics are first which develops in to a medium tart kick with a clean finish.

M: good feel to the beer, not too thin, it has some thicker viscosity aspects to it but does not coat.

O: a good moderate sour with some dark fruits and tart cherry that is very pleasing to drink. Nothing out of this world but a good everyday beer for when the sour mood strikes.

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Photo of viverlee
2.94/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

More than any other for me, there’s variety in this style. Superlative to good to average to what the fuck, to be more specific. This one, I wanted to like it more.

STYLE: Flanders Oud Bruin

ABV: 5.5%

LOOK: Dark wood, brown, and syrupy. But that’s a standstill take. On closer inspection with a whirl or two around a Belgian tulip it’s plainly lighter, unsticky.

NOSE: Burnt leather, stale coffee, flat soda. Residual cherry and malt vinegar.

MOUTH: Rather soft, mild tartness. The biggest problem I have is reconciling the message (Flemish Sour Ale) with the result (a slightly sweeter, moderately more acidic Killian’s Irish Red). Cherry skins and cola cake, yes – a wee bit. But it’s a struggle to pull more. For a so-called sour, the finish is ridiculously clean, palate cleansing.

Beeradvocate Rating: 86

ratebeer Rating: 92

Hayward Abbey Rating: 77

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Photo of KingG
3.46/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served at room temp and poured into my Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance is good. The beer itself is dark red/almost purple. Nice creamy tan colored head with impressive lacing.

Smell is average. Sweet/tart aromas fight to be on top with the tartness winning out at the end. There's a strange stinky garbage smell coming through which isn't pleasant.

Taste is above-average. Initially, a nice fruity tartness hits with tamarind and oak. Finishes slightly metallic and lacks complexity but pretty good none-the-less.

Mouthfeel is good. Medium bodied for the style and a nice level of carbonation. Texture is slightly chalky.

Drinkability is above-average. I'll finish it but I'm moving onto something else afterward.

Not bad for a change of pace but nothing worth seeking out. Above-average for the style.

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Photo of Greenfloyd
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Flemish Sour Ale. That just might be the sexiest beer description ever. Or not....

Poured into my tulip glass with a fairly menacing looking brownish/amber color that is topped off by a long lasting (albeit extremely thin) cappuccino frothy head. The nose brings out subtle malted vinegar and tart apple aromas that only a Flanders beer can. The taste is so wonderfully complex- sweet malty tones with apple cider trail off into a tart, mildly acidic finish. The mouth feel of this ale, as I've been finding out, is indicative of the remarkably refreshing light to medium body these beers all have. A great beer with grilled Steak au Poivre, or with some brie de meaux and crusty French bread. Enjoy.

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Photo of TheMadJack
4.44/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz. Bottle into Tulip glass.

A: Dark brownish-red with a spotty, thin, light beige head. Sounds like a coke when I pour it.

S: Smells like a tawny port. Caramel, dates, raisins, rye, and wine vinegar. No hops.

T: Lightly toasted malts and a firm apple-cider vinegar flavor are at the forefront. Green grapes, cola, and a little bit of sugar wrap it up.

M: The acid is enough to register on the tongue and make the beer unavoidably sour, but not undrinkably so. The tongue doesn't curl, but the sourness brightens, and mild carbonation further lifts, what would otherwise be a heavy and almost syrupy brew.

D: This is my first exposure to the style and I am greatly pleased. I wish I could find this locally so I could start experimenting with food pairings!

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Photo of jporf911
4.09/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle with no freshness date into my trusty snifter.

Appearance- 2.5 out of 5. Aside from an initial burst of excitingly active fizz, this beer appears very lackluster. A charming ring of slightly tan lace rounds the top, but the beer itself is a dull dark brown that seems almost entirely opaque when held up to the light, ringed only with a little equally dull red. Not only is it rather boring, it's also a bit uncharacteristic for the style-- more translucency and ruby-reddish tint should be present.

Smell- 3.5 out of 5. On the other hand, the aroma is refreshingly pleasant and true-to-style. With hints of cherries, woodiness, and fruity wine that's been left out so long that it slowly turns to vinegar, it tickles the nose with anticipation. Pale and crystal malts provide a solid foundation for the rest of the scents, which do not include any hops at all. Nothing overpowering, but it's a step up from the appearance.

Taste- 4.5 out of 5. Jesus H. Christ, it's like a sour cherry warhead just pulled out my tongue, cut it off, and proceeded to beat the rest of my mouth with it. Be prepared for mouth-puckeringly strong sourness when you first sip this beer. It fades as your tongue becomes acclimated to it, but my god does it catch you off guard after the deceptively mild aroma. Make sure your palate is cleansed to fully enjoy the sensation. After the initial tongue-punch, it mellows out into sour cherries, fresh tart apples, and raspberries. A little earthy oak peeks in before washing away in a tide of mild sweetness that lingers in the aftertaste. As with the nose, no hops are present. Acidity is low, as is the "funkiness"-- the yeast did a great job of turning out a clean, mellow Sour Ale. The fairly low alcohol is hidden behind everything else going on in the glass. It's a classic example of the style.

Mouthfeel- 4 out of 5. Slightly dry with a medium body and astringent finish. Easily quaffable, but why waste such a treat for your mouth? Take it slow and savor each sip; they become creamier as it warms.

Drinkability- 4.5 out of 5. I'm tempted to give this a slightly lower drinkability score because both the price and the slowly-sipping nature needed to truly appreciate it make it a rather poor choice for a session, but if you were flush enough and so inclined, you could easily spend a few hours having a few of these. This is a great choice for people who dislike hops, wine drinkers who want to get into beer, and people who love sour candy and sour fruits. Keep in mind my bias-- this may not be for beginners coming from a macro-lager background.

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Photo of Beelzebeer
4.25/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle, no BB date, served in a tulip. I bought this from a bottle shop in NYC about 2 years ago.

A - Holy head! I had to pour extra slow, just a trickle, to keep this thing under wraps. Maybe it's the age? Alot of bubbles coming up. After a couple minutes, it's still going strong.

S - I can't really get much of a smell. Could be the head, could be my nose, could be the beer. Some sour coming through, but not a whole lot.

T - Malt off the top. A little bread, some light raisin, then the sour kicks in. This is delicious. Very well balanced.

M - Nice. Medium-high carbonation, but not too much, with a chewier body than what I was expecting. A very nice surprise.

O - Killer. Liked it then, like it now. I really wish more sours were available in Canada, let alone Newfoundland.

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Photo of nightcrawler
4.18/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a scary-looking muddy brown with a brown head. There were red highlights when viewed with a bright light looking through the glass. Lacing was thick and tight on the glass.

Smelled sort of like BBQ sauce with a hint of yeast/bread. Very interesting. Carbonation was like a soda.

The taste was sweet with a cherry wine-like finish. Very easy to drink, maybe too easy. The beer has a creamy feel and carbonation continues to produce bubbles when the liquid hits your warm tongue.

My mouth tingles slightly with the sour after every swallow. Not a beer to chug all afternoon, but very tasty.

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Photo of PSUBeerman
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle in tulip glass
*First sour I recall tasting

Deep mahogany/garnet color. Head is off white, slightly tan color. Head pours frothy, but dissipated quickly. Definite lacing and retention around glass.

Vinegar aroma hits immediately. Characteristics of red wine in the aroma as well.

Nice carbonation. I thought it was refreshing and very drinkable as far as the mouthfeel.

I thought the taste was well balanced between the sour / tartness and the sweetness. I am a vinegar lover, so I may be biased to say that it was not overpowering with tartness. I picked up some fruitiness, possibly cherry. It reminds me of a local winemaker who bottled a sour cherry wine.

I enjoyed this. Was not what i expected with my first try at a sour ale.

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Photo of cwc
4.6/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Wow, this beer kind of changed my life, as far as beers go. Never having had a "sour red ale", I really wasn't sure what to expect, but what a treat it was! This is one of the most refreshing and tasty beers I can remember consuming and it really opens up a whole world of beers for future consumption! Really, this is a unique and special beer worth seeking out and trying.

T - very distinct and refreshing. Maybe all "sour red ales" taste like this, but it was a new and distinct taste for me - and it worked!

D - One could probably enjoy quite a few of these very easily. Not too strong by any means.

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Photo of VinnyA
3.99/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Source: 11.2oz bottle
Served: tulip glass

Appearance: pours a deep red with about 1 inch tan head.

Smell: sugar, sour apple, hint of cherry

Taste: slightly bitter and moderately sour. Low tartness. Notice some vinegar. Beer gives way to a relatively clean finish, it is very much a palate cleansing beer. Tasty, however, I can't quite put my finger on what makes this unique.

Mouthfeel: high carbonation. Monks has a mild bite on the back end of the tongue that fades out into a refreshing yet dry finish. It quenches your thirst and is a nice cleanser.

Overall: this is a good entry-level sour red. I have to recommend having it on draft at monks cafe in Philly, if you're in the area. It is a lot softer, mildly carbonated and sweeter which balances out the sourness brilliantly. Still, the bottled version is a good beer to have before eating meat or as a relaxer on a summer evening. If you like the style, I'd recommend buying a case of it at least once. Very easy to drink. If you're looking for a more complete Oud Bruin, I recommend the Liefmans Goudenband.

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Photo of kindacold
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pouts a deep red with approximately a one inch, reddish-brown head. Head dissipates after a few minutes. Smells sour, almost candy-like. First sip is like a kick in the face. EXTREMELY sour, almost like a sweet tart. After the initial shock, the beer goes down with a lot of carbonation and much tingling. The sour taste remains in the mouth and even the throat for a long time after each sip, however, it somehow adds to the beer's refreshing taste. I will continue to drink this beer when I come inside from a hot day.

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Photo of jenitivecase
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to EmperorStan for bringing this one back from CA.

A: Pours a clear, coppery red, with a loose, fizzy head that dissipates leaving straggly lacing behind.

S: Clean scent. Picking up the usual sour fruits - plums, apples, etc., with some notes of acidity and a touch of citrus.

T: Very average sour ale. Not too sour, but not too sweet, although there is a good deal of sweetness in the taste. Again, lots of fruitiness, and the slightest touch of barnyard. Makes me think of candy apples.

M: Slightly watery, but not unpleasantly so. Nothing really stand out here, but nothing negative, either. Leaves a nice clean palate behind.

D: This may be a slightly generic sour, but it's a well-crafted one. I would have no problem at all with putting away a 750 of this on my own. Definitely a session drinker.

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Photo of djeffbee
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased at Canal's Discount Liquors in Pennsauken, NJ. Very shocked to see this on the shelf, couldn't pass it up @ $1.99/bottle...

A - Pours deep amber to ruby, with no haze and a short head that fades quickly leaving lotsa lacing behind.

S - Sour cherries and green apples. More pleasant than expected based on other reviews.

T - WOW. Sour cherries (talking sour patch kids) with a mild malty background and no apparent hop presence. This is good.

M - I liken this to sucking on a lemon - a bit tart at first, making you pucker and leaving a very pleasant clean tingle. Nice.

D - Very good. I was expecting so much worse. This is an excellent beverage. I could see maybe two at a sitting, but not much more beyond that. (kinda like you wouldn't drink a few Coke's in a row)

Very enjoyable and will definitely purchase this again..

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Photo of Ed2
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I get in the mood for sours... This one is readily available in my area and is a very good option. The Tart of Darkness has been the best I've ever tasted, but this will do very well. Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Brown, lightish.. With a white head about a finger and a half... A little lacing. Smell is what I'm looking for and starts the salivation. Taste. Yes. A very good sour brown.

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Photo of EmoBeerGuy
3.69/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2


This was the first Sour Ale I had ever tried and it was something else. I need to read up on here about the process that goes into creating the sour taste but I am assuming it is something akin to sour dough.

A - Looks like a fairly standard brown ale. Unimpressed by the head.

S- Woah. The first sign that something is off. This stuff will turn your nose but you gotta just plunge in anyways.

T- Completle unique. As advertised it is quite sour but has some malt to back it up.

D- Hard to say. I've rated it low because it is a "one is enough" type beer, but for that one beer you don't really get sick of it.

Overall - A style all beer lovers should try, at least once.

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Photo of brushpig
3/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Found a bottle at Sams wines in Chicago, the clerk recommended it.

I have never had a flemish sour before so I have no comparision, but I found it very interesting.

A Redish Brown Hue, with a head that was really non existant.

I smelled cherries right off, sour apples, with acidic sweetness to it.

The taste of sweet cherries was right upfront, then the sour, lightly acidic flavor. Not that complex, but a nice flavor.

The mouth feel I didn't like, the finish never finished, and left my mouth tart and sour, but not in a good way.

My tolerance for the sour and tart is not high in a beer, but the flavor was not bad. Not sure if I am a Flemish sour ale guy. I will have to try more to see.

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Photo of BeerHonky
3.41/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

While there's always something wonderful to be said about Monk's Cafe, I have to say that this beer was a little bit of a bummer. The beer looks beautiful. It pours a wonderfully bright reddish brown with a nice fluffy, pale khaki head. It smells sweet and wild and yeasty. A bit of fruityness can be detected here I'd say, but nothing out of the ordinary. The taste starts out really sweet and tart. Almost gummi bear-ish, obviously not as sweet as that, but a little too sweet in my mind for a flemmish sour. There's a decent bit of sourness and a hint of wood that appears after that first blast of sweet and tart changes into a wild and funky aftertaste if you don't go for another sip too soon. The mouthfeel is very refreshing with its scrubby, spritzy carbonation. I must say though, this isn't highly drinkable due to its level of sweetness. Again, I was a little bummed.

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3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass

A: Pours a reddish brown with a thin later of loose head that quickly becomes a thin cap. Little lacing remains on my glass.

S: Definitely a sour overtone on the nose. Earthy sour cherries and granny smith apples dominate with an earthy Belgian funk behind.

T: The sourness isn't as prominent on the palate as it is on the nose. It's there, but just not as much as I had expected. A sweet finish lingers on my tongue.

M: Way too much carbonation with a medium mouthfeel.

D: The sweetness kills any chances of downing more than one of these.

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Photo of dqderrick
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

SOUR VIRGIN!!! (Hop Head and Imperial Stout fan)

Keep in mind that I'm currently acquiring the sour beer taste. This is my second sour. My first was the Duchess de Bourgogne which I didn't put through a proper review. I picked these two sours after seeing suggestions on initial sour beers to try here on the forums.

A - 3.5
Pours a burnt red/brown. 1/4" head, sticks around for a good 5 minutes. Reminds me of a dark lager.

S - 3 (then a 3.5)
Smells like a sour grape juice at first. A little woody. Maybe some vinegar. Develops a sweet smell at the end. After a few sips... I pick up a strong cherry sent. Very cherry.

T - 4
Sour, sweet, juicy. I pick up both sweet and sour. I agree with the label. Very refreshing with a light body.

MF - 4.5
Fun and bubbly. I don't know really what to expect here. I will probably give really high marks on MF until I get a feel for sours. But, I enjoyed the MF on the Monk's.

D - 4
First 4oz was tough. After 8 oz was sipped, I was getting the hang/jist of it. I started picking up the cherry nose and enjoying the overall experience. I've had a few conversations with "sour-heads" and started picking up on their notes. 4 seems a little high... but you know, I actually enjoyed finishing this bottle.

Will I fully pickup the sour style? Time will tell. Check out my reviews after the Monk's.

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Photo of TwinSox33
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Pours dark rusty brown, with a lacy head.

S: Smells like a strong wine at first, then hints of sour malts and a touch of grain.

T: Very tart; there are some astringent phenolic like tastes intertwined with fruity esters. I think there might be a tinge of hops, but I Can't discern what type.

M: Very smooth at first, then the effervescence rushes up on you after a few sips.

D: Highly Drinkable. Quite unique and refreshing. I'd like to try brewing it myself, as it is a hit-or-miss affair trying to find it....

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Photo of fragilehearted
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

11.2oz bottle into a tulip. Thanks to Brez07 for this in a recent BIF! I've had it before, but it's just not sold where I live, so I seek it out whenever I can. It's one of my favorites!

A - dark brownish red. nice tan head, but it goes down pretty quickly into a cloud-covered ring. Leaves a bit of lacing hanging out in blotches.

S - sour fruits, acid, vinegar. Kind of reminds me of a vinaigrette dressing. Could be better, actually, but well, I'm into aromas.

T - tart, but not too tart. There's some sweetness in there too. Cherries, grapes, apples...fruits. Lots of sours are just overwhelmingly sour (not always a bad thing), but I like this one a lot because of the balance.

M - light. pretty carbonated, but I don't generally mind that in a beer. Goes down so smooth.

D - super duper. I could drink this all the time. It's not overly sour, has just a touch of sweetness that makes it much more drinkable than the average sour, especially for those not familiar w/ the style. For that reason, I think it'd be a great intro to the style - was mine, way back when! And if you can find it, usually not a bad price tag either.

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Photo of MufflnMan
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at The Thirsty Monk. Poured a reddish color with a frothy off white head. Smells of tart fruit... apples, cherries, berries. Taste is the perfect amount of sour. Just what I was looking for in this kind of brew. Green apples and cherries nicely balanced to create a really refreshing feel.

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Photo of Goldopelgt
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Poured a reddish brown with a whitish head and some decent lacing.

S- Initially hit with vinegar and sour fruits...complex, but pleasant. Definitely some funk, but what to be expected with this style.

T- Tart, acidic, sour--everything you would expect from this beer. Very nice!

M- Somewhat thin, carbonated, but again what you would expect from this style.

D- Very drinkable....want to try it again. I really enjoyed this beer and would definitely recommend it.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,098 ratings.